The president of the Vatican bank was effectively ousted Thursday after receiving a unanimous vote of no-confidence from bank overseers for having leaked documents and failed to do his job at a critical time in the Holy See's efforts to show transparency in its finances, the Vatican and officials said.
Ettore Gotti Tedeschi has been a polarizing figure in the Vatican ever since he was named president of the bank, known as the Institute for Religious Works, or IOR, in 2009.
He is being investigated on suspicion of money laundering by Italian magistrates, but the investigation isn't believed to have factored into the decision since the Vatican considers the investigation to be motivated by outside political interests.
In a statement Thursday, the Holy See said the vote was taken because of Tedeschi's failure to fulfill the "primary functions of his office."
He himself has told prosecutors that he barely paid attention to the bank's works, showing up only two days a week while tending to his primary position as head of Spain's Banco Santander's Italian unit.
In addition, someone familiar with the case said Gotti Tedeschi had been found to have leaked confidential documents to serve his personal and political interests.
The Vatican is in the midst of a scandal over leaked documents and has begun a criminal investigation into the source of the leaks, as well as appointed a commission of cardinals to get to the bottom of it.
Gotti Tedeschi has long painted himself as the symbol of Vatican financial transparency, but the vote Thursday indicated that his primary collaborators on the board had found him to be anything but. He was faulted for failing to keep the board of superintendents apprised of the work of the bank, among other failings.
Gotti Tedeschi's fate isn't final. On Friday the cardinals who sit on the IOR's governing council are to meet to consider the vote. It wasn't clear if they could ignore the no-confidence vote, but already the Vatican indicated the search was on for a new president.
It said it hoped to find a new president who will "rebuild relationships with the institute and the financial community based on mutual respect based on internationally accepted banking standards."